Former Chief Justices Davide and Puno, disagrees with one another on Federalism

Former Chief Justices Davide and Puno, disagrees with one another on Federalism

Is it a go or no go?

Federalism is one of the campaign promises of then Davao Mayor and now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, he aims to decentralize the power that seems to be concentrated to “Imperial Manila”.

Under the proposed bill for its creation, five states will be created and will be composed of  Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, Bangsamoro, and Metro Manila. The Senate hearing regarding the need to change the form of government to federalism invited experts on the matter.    *
Two former Chief Justices, Hilario Davide Jr and Renato Puno (photo credit to PDI)

The 20th and the 22nd, Chief Justice of the Philippines, Hilario Davide Jr. and Renato Puno respectively gave different opinions on the plan of the President to change the form of government to federalism.They were invited by the Senate committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes headed by Senator Francis Pangilinan.

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. warned the Senate that shifting to Federalism ia a “lethal experiment” as it will not suit the Philippines and the “people of our generation and even those of the succeeding generations.”

Davide, is one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, made his stand in insisting that the present system of government is the best fit for the country’s history, culture, character, and traditions, among other things, as it had “proven itself to be so.”

“My position is: A shift to federalism is a lethal experiment, a fatal leap, a plunge to death, a leap to hell,” he told senators on the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes .

“If the shift to federalism were to deal with the imbalance created by an “Imperial Manila,” then this could be done by “effectively and efficiently implementing the relevant provisions” of the present Constitution “for strong local autonomy and decentralization.” Davide said.    *

Davide also pitched for the Congress to just amend the Local Government Code.

For Chief Justice Puno,the shift to federalism would require the “overhauling” of the Constitution or a revision and “not a surgical amendment” because, among other things, there was a need to define the philosophy of the federal government to be adopted. He even joked that he had no intelligent answer to Davide’s statement that going to federal was a leap to hell because he had never been to hell.

“Why are we classified year in and year out as a failing democracy? One of the principal reasons for that is our unitary form of government,” Puno said.

“In noncentralization of powers, you give real political, economic and social powers to the states and you give these powers from the Constitution itself. So it will not be a grant of powers from the national government but a grant of real powers from the Constitution itself, which means these states will have self-rule and self-determination,” Puno said.

Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., which is considered as the father of the Local Government Code disagreed with Davide that going federal was a lethal experiment, making a contrary stand, it was a “vital” one as this was in the interest of good government and in providing a good life for the Filipinos.

Pimentel said that if the Philippines would go federal, the Constitution should be revised.

“If we have to revise the Constitution to give meaning to the devolution intended by the Local Government Code, we might as well move forward to the scope and power by adopting the federal system,” he said.

Report from PDI


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